How Long Does Pharmacy School Take?

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A two-year Associate Degree in Pharmacy is an outstanding way to launch a career in health care. With a two-year degree, you’ll be ready for the top pay and best positions in your local pharmacy. With your associate degree in Pharmacy, you are certain to find many opportunities readily available.

An associate degree in Pharmacy will prepare you for one of two directions. It can focus you on the core program for being a pharmacist. It can also prepare you for the occupation of a pharmacy technician. Depending on your program, some are more focused on the chemistry and biology coursework for future studies in pharmacology. Others specialize in training retail pharmacy technicians. With either program, you will take courses that include a good foundation in human anatomy & physiology, calculus, biology, medical ethics, and organic chemistry.

If your degree is from an accredited institution, you can use apply degree in an application for a four-year degree program. However, your degree’s focus may determine your academic path going forward. A pharmacy tech degree is good precursor to a future bachelor’s degree in health sciences. An AS in Pharmacy is tailored to specific work on a pharmacy degree. But most importantly, your associate’s degree will serve as a solid foundation for a long and important career.

One truly positive aspects of an Associate Degree in Pharmacy is that you can use the degree to immediately jump start your career. Your two-year degree is a direct part towards employment. You can also utilize either degree as a foundation for future studies in other health care related fields. Your understanding as a pharmacy technician will provide many experiences that you can apply towards with later jobs or degrees.

Another positive aspect of an associate degree is that the timeline between starting and completion is relatively short compared to other health care occupations.  An AS in pharmacy normally takes two years to complete. Your starting rate of pay will be higher than someone with either a certificate or no degree at all and you will find that your experience will pay off when you look to be promoted, search for the new job or apply for a baccalaureate program.

There are also setbacks with associate degree in Pharmacy. With a two-year degree you might be able to initially land a job at a higher pay rate than someone with no degree, but you’ll soon find that your future earnings and promotion potential could be eclipsed by others with more education. This might feel frustrating after you’ve worked hard to finish this initial degree.

This pay level could turn out to be less than what you expected long term, compared to other persons in the profession.  If you want to advance further up the career ladder, you will still need to complete two more years of schooling to earn your bachelor’s degree.

Even if you pursue non-academic coursework in hopes of attaining a certificate, your choices are sure to be limited. Many professional certifications require that you have a baccalaureate degree or greater. On top of this, a two-year degree in pharmacy is unlikely to help you attain many relevant state licenses. There are no absolute guarantees that any certificate or degree will bring you the top rate of pay.

If you are considering a career as a pharmacy technician, you might see many opportunities to work on a certificate program. This is a valid option but you should consider the differences between a certificate program and an associate degree program. A number of schools that offer a pharmacy tech certificate also offer an associate degree. While your certificate will take less initial time and will still land you a job at a pharmacy, you will also find that your career plateaus at this level. If you take more time initially to finish an associate degree, this will build you a stronger foundation for the future.

What Pharmacy Associates Degrees are Available?

Associate of Science in Pharmacy/Pre-Pharmacy:

This category of pharmacy degree is designed to prepare you for future studies that lead to the position of full pharmacist. AS degrees typically focus on purely analytical STEM subjects. In this case, you’ll need to pass several chemistry classes.

Associate of Applied Science in Pharmacy Technician:

An applied science degree generally trains you specifically for an occupation and relies on information and training with that specific occupation rather than academic study. Depending on the program, you might find it difficult to transfer these credits from this type of program towards a baccalaureate degree later.

Associate Degree in Pharmacy Technician:

This degree is designed to apprentice you for a career as a pharmacy technician. If you are considering a baccalaureate degree, discuss up front with your advisor how your credits might transfer. This way you can have a reasonable expectation of what to expect with your future academic career.

Associate of Arts in Pre-Pharmacy:

An AA degree in pre-pharmacy is likely to be parallel to an Associate of Science. While arts degrees generally indicate that the curriculum weighs heavier on humanities topics, pre-pharmacy degrees will likely be weighted to STEM subjects such as human biology and chemistry.

Associate of Science in Pharmacy Technology:

Your AS degree is the surest foundation for a future career in health sciences. This degree type will focus your studies on issues directly related to your career goals and objectives. This initial coursework will not feature as many chemistry or hard-science classes.  These will be replaced with studying Pharmacology and Pharmacy Systems. If you decide to become a full pharmacist later, this means that you will need to take all of those advanced chemistry courses, as well as their prerequisites.

Right now is an excellent time to consider a career in the Pharmacy sector. With The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting growth in most healthcare occupations, you are likely to find many opportunities both now and in the future.